View: Aston Villa academy could be stung by projected £100m spending spree in summer
Although Bodymoor Heath has recently provided the Aston Villa first team with a constant flow of rising stars, summer investment could severely reduce the academy’s role in the coming years.
The likes of Jack Grealish, Jacob Ramsey and Cameron Archer have all risen the ranks at Villa Park in the past decade, but the academy’s importance hangs by a thread as the Villa hierarchy mull over their transfer strategy in the coming months.
After spending frugally in the January transfer window and instead looking to trim down Unai Emery’s squad, Birmingham Live reporter Ashley Preece predicted this summer could be a record-breaking window for Villa as they look to bridge the gap to Europe.
When asked by a fan how much he thought Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris were contemplating spending, Preece replied: “It could – depending how much NSWE want to push – be a record-breaking summer in terms of money spent.
“£100m would just be the ballpark figure.”
Such news will send chins wagging amongst the majority of the Villa fanbase, but such investment will come at a detriment to those lower down the pecking order in the Villa Under-21s or the large number of players out on loan in the football league.
There is a fine balance to be struck between wanting to rise up the Premier League table by splashing the cash and looking close to home to invest more time and energy in the upcoming stars within the academy.
A prime example of the tough state of affairs for these players on the periphery of proceedings at Villa Park is Archer.
The England Under-21 international has excelled at every age group he has played at – while also impressing on loan at Preston in the Championship and netting a hattrick on his Villa first-team debut against Barrow.
Despite making the grade at every checkpoint in his career to date, he is yet to have been given a consistent run of games under either Steven Gerrard or Emery.
With the Spanish manager also likely to invest heavily in attacking areas in the summer, Archer may soon find himself ostracised from proceedings at Villa Park.
An attack of Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey, 19-year-old January recruit Jhon Duran, plus at least two more summer signings leaves little wiggle room for Archer to slip into – and as such, he will either have to broker a further loan deal or cut ties with the club.
Now obviously, Villa must invest in the first team to make progress in the Premier League – and this is not a vendetta against such spending – but the impact on those at the grassroots level within the club must be considered.
If the most talented stars to rise from the academy, such as Archer, can’t force their way into the first-team plans, the role of the academy may quickly become redundant.
In other Aston Villa news, the club are set to revive interest in an Athletic Bilbao player in the summer after a failed January swoop.